Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Panel #44
CE Offered: BACB
Touch Therapy: Why Does it Work?
Saturday, May 24, 2008
2:00 PM–3:20 PM
Area: DEV/CBM; Domain: Service Delivery
CE Instructor: Martha Pelaez, Ph.D.
Chair: Jacob L. Gewirtz (Florida International University)
JACOB L. GEWIRTZ (Florida International University)
PATRICE MARIE MILLER (Salem State College)
GARY D. NOVAK (California State University Stanislaus)
TIFFANY FIELD (Touch Research Institute/University of Miami, Medical School)

Massage Therapy is increasingly being used as a complementary/alternative therapy not only because many people with psychological and physical problems are touch-deprived but also because of its therapeutic effects. Recent research reported by Dr. Tiffany Field and others suggests that massage therapy: (1) facilitates growth and developmen (2) reduces depressive behavior and anxiety patterns and related stress hormones, (3) enhances sleep, ( 4) reduces pa, (5) reduces autoimmune disorders, and (6) enhances immune function. For example, these effects have been noted in samples of preterm neonates, depressed children and adults, chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and migraine headaches, autoimmune problems including asthma and diabetes, and immune disorders including HIV and cancer. Some potential underlying mechanisms are enhanced parasympathetic activity (increased vagal tone) following massage therapy, decreased stress hormones (cortisol), and increased serotonin (the bodys natural pain killer and antidepressant), which in turn lead to increased natural killer cell activity (front line of the immune system) that wards off viral and cancer cells. In addition, cognitive performance is enhanced by massage therapy which may relate to changes noted in EEG patterns that are indicative of heightened alertness. The data will be reviewed by the panelists highlighting the role of environmental contingencies in these findings. The therapeutic effects and the potential underlying behavioral mechanisms will be discussed.




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